Genre: Paranormal, Vampires
Published: February 28, 2017
There’s a saying about how books always seem to find their reader, and this is especially true of this book...
I haven’t read a good vampire novel in years. It’s not my preferred genre even though I devoured everything Anne Rice wrote in the 90s, loved Tom Cruise as the willful Lestat in the movie version and read and watched The Twilight series.
So when I met a very nice local author recently, I mentioned the book blog and my focus of supporting Orange County authors. (I actually had no clue about what kind of books he wrote!) He kindly sent me a PDF of The Scribbled Victims, and I started to read… and didn’t stop.
This was an incredibly well done story with unforgettable characters. I was immediately drawn into Yelena’s story of guilt and desperate thirst as she struggles against her vampire nature. Orly is a young girl who has a special talent for drawing pictures that tell a story. They need each other and that scares them because they don’t trust anyone and have built protective walls to keep everyone out.
Yelena and Orly develop a special mother-daughter bond and their story is emotional and heartfelt and beautiful. They are strong and engaging characters. Others like Hisato and Berthold were integral to the story and I loved their devotion and loyalty.
Fair warning – this story is dark and grim and grisly. There’s no shortage of gore and blood and shocking loss of life – but it’s realistic and to be expected if you’re reading this genre. However it’s the relationships and characters that kept me interested and involved. I’m excited to know there’s a sequel, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Thank you Robert, for taking the time to answer our questions!
Q. Can you describe The Scribbled Victims in three words?
A. Love outlives death.
Q. Why were your compelled to write a vampire novel?
A. I’m fascinated with immortality and vampires were a good vehicle to explore that fascination. Plus, it was fun writing characters with preternatural powers and enthralling to make them contend with the gravity of an endless existence.
Q. On your website, you talk about the inspiration behind Orly and how she is loosely based on an illustrator you worked with who had cancer. How did you decide to include her in your story?
A. You’re talking about Ashley Vargas. Her declining health broke my heart. There was nothing I could do about it in real life, but in fiction I could change the outcomes.
Q. What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
A. I read a lot of literary fiction and especially enjoy reading transgressive fiction by authors like Dennis Cooper and JT LeRoy (a.k.a. Laura Albert). I’d like to say my writing has been influenced by the late Bo Huston, particularly with his novel Remember Me, but I’m not sure anyone would see any resemblance to his writing. I’ve recently become a huge fan of Haruki Murakami and find his storytelling mesmerizing. As for vampires, I love the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, and it just kills me when she kills off characters I love. But the book that made the biggest impact has been The Dead by James Joyce. It was the beauty of the writing in that story that made me want to become a writer when I was sixteen. I still dream of writing something so beautiful and perfect.
Q. What book(s) are on your nightstand to read this year?
A. I actually have a special bookshelf where I shelve the books I plan on reading during the year. Among them are seven Haruki Murakami novels and, once I’ve read them, I believe I’ve read everything of his. I’m currently reading Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin for the third time and after that I have three more Baldwin books to get to. The rest is an eclectic mix of literary fiction.
Q. What does your writing process look like? Do you listen to music? If so, does it vary based on the book?
A. My writing process involves a daily goal to write for thirty minutes. I set such an easy goal as thirty minutes because it isn’t daunting. I can easily sit down for thirty minutes, but what I know from experience is that it rarely ever ends after only thirty minutes. I’ll become so wrapped up in the writing that it will go much longer. Typically, I do listen to music while I write, sometimes that means classical music (often Chopin’s Nocturnes) sometimes it means a huge playlist on Spotify of songs that make me sad. It doesn’t really vary based on the book. It’s imperative though that I listen to music I already know well. If I listen to music that is new to me, I’m distracted and pay more attention to the music than what I’m writing. During the writing of the sequel to The Scribbled Victims, Scribbling The Eternal, I listened to Deafheaven a lot.
Q. What do you do when you are not writing?
A. It probably sounds cliché, but when I’m not writing, I’m usually reading. If I do go out, it’s usually to goth clubs, restaurants, or cafés with friends. I do have a penchant for watching reality tv shows like Jersey Shore, 90 Day Fiancé, and Catfish.
Q. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
A. As I self-publish, my biggest challenge in getting my first book, Goth Girls Don’t Taste Like Chicken, published was finding the right designers to design the book cover and the book interior. I chose to self-publish because I was pretty confident I wouldn’t find a publisher for something like Goth Girls Don’t Taste Like Chicken, and felt the only way it would see the light of day was to do it myself. To my surprise, it got a following and has so far led to three more books in the series. But with The Scribbled Victims, my first full length novel, the biggest challenge was deciding on whether or not to try to publish traditionally. Ultimately, I decided against it as I wanted to have complete artistic control of my book and was also impatient, and so I never sent it out. Sometimes I wonder if that was a mistake.
Q. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
A. Marketing and promotion are definitely weaknesses for me as an author. I belong to online author groups and follow some blogs on the subject, and generally throw darts at everything suggested, from advertising to social media campaigns to giveaways. My two-day free Kindle download of The Scribbled Victims had heavy participation, but I saw little in the way of new book reviews. It did however lead to my biggest month in sales the month following the giveaway. As for social media, to my surprise, I’ve had the most success in gaining and interacting with readers through Instagram.
Q. What is something you cannot live without? (excluding computer or phone)
A. Does water count? I guess everyone needs water, but I actually drink so much water that a urologist told me I need to drink less.
Q. Can you tell us about the sequel to The Scribbled Victims and any other upcoming projects?
A. I finished writing the sequel in April and it is currently being edited. I hope it will be released in the fall. At the end of The Scribbled Victims, Orly’s new goal feels pretty unshakable, but she’s offered something in the new book that forces her to question her resolve. The new book is much darker than the first. Since finishing it, I’ve been juggling a few writing projects including a new novel about an angel who becomes bored with heaven, a fifth book in the Me and My Friend Maddie Gothic Book Series, and even a screenplay. But so far, I haven’t committed to finishing any of them, and this week I began itching to start writing the final book in the Black Wax Vampire Trilogy (the book to follow Scribbling The Eternal).
Q. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
A. Write every day, even if only a little. It will keep you present in your work and that will keep the storytelling wheels spinning all day, even when you’re not writing.
Q. Where is your favorite place to write?
A. On weekdays I write at home, either sitting on my bed with my MacBook Air or at my desk beside a photo of Ashley with my Mac mini. On weekends I usually write at Starbucks store 20537. You’ll have to look that up to find out which location that is.
Q. Name one thing you consider yourself to be very good at in your writing.
A. I believe I write flawed characters well.
Q. Name one thing you wish you could improve on, in your writing.
A. I write too slowly. I’m so envious of authors I talk to who are putting out a book every few months or who can write 10,000 words a day. 10,000 words in a month is a great month for me. Both The Scribbled Victims and Scribbling The Eternal took me over two years to write. But I do also work a full-time job. If my dream of being able to write for a living ever came true, I’d aim to publish three books every two years.
Q. Have you always lived in Southern California?
A. With the exception of my time in college at UC Santa Cruz, I’ve always lived in Southern California, specifically Orange County.
Q. What would you like to say to your readers and fans?
A. I’d like to say to my readers, “Thank you for reading and supporting my work. It really means a lot to me to know someone is reading my books.” To my fans (if I have any), I’d like to say, “Calling yourself a fan makes me blush.”
Q. Can you share with us the best way to reach you and where to learn more about your books?
A. My website, tomoguchi.com, has links to my books, a newsletter sign up form and a blog where I talk about what I’m writing. On social media you can follow me here:
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